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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wearing Lingerie Gives Me a Thrill!

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Q: I have liked wearing lingerie since I was a teen. I am now 56 and still do. What caused me to like wearing lingerie?

Since readers can submit questions anonymously, I don't know your gender identity, but I'm going to answer this question as if you are a man. This is mostly because wearing lingerie is considered normal for women (whether they actually like it or not) but unusual for men. This doesn't mean that it's not healthy or well within the range of normal sexual desires, just that it's seen as something that's not widely accepted by society. This lack of acceptance can cause the type of question you ask above: If I'm not supposed to wear lingerie, why do I enjoy it so much? And what does this mean?

"Cross-dressing" is the term commonly used to refer to the act of wearing clothing, whether lingerie or otherwise, that society usually associates with a gender that is different than the gender of the person wearing those clothes—for example, a man who enjoys wearing women's lingerie.

There are many different reasons that a person might choose to cross-dress. For some men, wearing lingerie might be sexually stimulating, something they do when they have sex with a partner or when they masturbate. Others might find a deep emotional satisfaction in cross-dressing. Some people may cross-dress only occasionally, while others may do it on a regular basis—for instance, wearing women's lingerie under a men's business suit to work every day. Some people, like drag queens or drag kings, cross-dress as part of a theatrical or political performance, often to make an artistic statement about gender roles and society. For some people, cross-dressing is a very important part of their identity, and they may choose to use the term "cross-dresser" to describe themselves and seek out a community of other cross-dressers. Some men in this category have a well-developed feminine persona that they enjoy expressing, either in private or in public. For other people, cross-dressing isn't that big of a deal—they do it as they are moved to, but don't consider it a defining element of their sexuality or gender identity.

There isn't a lot of information about how many cross-dressers there are or what causes people to enjoy cross-dressing. This is partly because there is still, unfortunately, some shame associated with this activity, and so many people who cross-dress are not open about it. Because there are so many reasons and so many ways to cross-dress, it's hard to develop a unified theory about what might "cause" people to do this. I'm not even sure that this is a useful question; we rarely ask what "causes" people to wear clothing that is considered appropriate for their gender by our society. I would rather focus on eradicating the shame that some people feel about their enjoyment of cross-dressing and bringing it out into the open that this is well within the range of normal behavior, as part of a person's sexual identity, gender identity, or both.

So, if you enjoy wearing lingerie, go ahead and do it. An interesting book with more information about this topic is Helen Boyd's memoir, My Husband Betty: Love, Sex, and Life with a Crossdresser.

Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXpress? Send them to
laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.

Laura Anne Stuart has a master's degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than a decade. She owns the
Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee's East Side.
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